Sunday June 6th Holy Communion- Resilience in Nehemiah

Updated: Jun 4


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Welcome to our series on Resilience


What is resilience?

Resilience is having the strength to fulfil the call God has given us, even when it will be painful and difficult


Grace, mercy and peace

from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ

be with you

and also with you.


Hymn: O God our help in ages past https://www.funeralguide.co.uk/help-resources/arranging-a-funeral/planning-the-service/funeral-hymns/our-god-our-help-in-ages-past


Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


Let us admit to God the sin which always confronts us.

We confess to you our selfishness and lack of love:

fill us with your Spirit.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


We confess to you our fear and failure in sharing our faith:

fill us with your Spirit.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

We confess to you our stubbornness and lack of trust:

fill us with your Spirit.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


May the God of all healing and forgiveness

draw you to himself,

and cleanse you from all your sins

that you may behold the glory of his Son,

the Word made flesh,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Song: Exalt the Lord our God https://youtu.be/kCYgkqbX-fQ


The Collect

God of truth,

help us to keep your law of love

and to walk in ways of wisdom,

that we may find true life

in Jesus Christ your Son. Amen


First Reading Nehemiah 1:1-9


1 This is the account of what Nehemiah son of Hacaliah accomplished.

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year that Artaxerxes was emperor of Persia, I, Nehemiah, was in Susa, the capital city. 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived from Judah with another group, and I asked them about Jerusalem and about the other Jews who had returned from exile in Babylonia. 3 They told me that those who had survived and were back in the homeland were in great difficulty and that the foreigners who lived nearby looked down on them. They also told me that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down and that the gates had not been restored since the time they were burned. 4 When I heard all this, I sat down and wept.

For several days I mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5 “Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6 Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7 We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant. 8 Remember now what you told Moses: ‘If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations. 9 But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.’


Song: My God is so big https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbrPc1S06oI


Second Reading: Nehemiah 6:1-9

6 Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and the rest of our enemies heard that we had finished building the wall and that there were no gaps left in it, although we still had not set up the gates in the gateways. 2 So Sanballat and Geshem sent me a message, suggesting that I meet with them in one of the villages in the Plain of Ono. This was a trick of theirs to try to harm me. 3 I sent messengers to say to them, “I am doing important work and can't go down there. I am not going to let the work stop just to go and see you.”

4 They sent me the same message four times, and each time I sent them the same reply.

5 Then Sanballat sent one of his servants to me with a fifth message, this one in the form of an unsealed letter. 6 It read:

“Geshem tells me that a rumour is going around among the neighbouring peoples that you and the Jewish people intend to revolt and that this is why you are rebuilding the wall. He also says you plan to make yourself king 7 and that you have arranged for some prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem that you are the king of Judah. His Majesty is certain to hear about this, so I suggest that you and I meet to talk the situation over.”

8 I sent a reply to him: “Nothing of what you are saying is true. You have made it all up yourself.”

9 They were trying to frighten us into stopping work. I prayed, “But now, God, make me strong!”


Reading Video: https://youtu.be/HdDvqWtVkro


Sermon:

So through June, we’re going to be looking at people and situations in the bible that help us think about resilience.

Why? I think one of the things that we heard a lot in the early days of COVID was-

“when this is all over; or by September- or by Christmas…”


We kept thinking that suddenly everything would be back to normal. Whatever that might mean.

But I think we’ve learnt that any change is slow and gradual; that normal isn’t what it once was. We are in a huge process of change and it’s going to continue.

Adapting to change is exhausting and frustrating but people have had to do it all throughout the ages. Resilience is the characteristic that enables us to do that.

So what help do we find in the history of God’s people?


I wonder if focussing on Nehemiah all seems a bit familiar- I checked. We looked at this story on St Catherine’s Day- November last year.

But it’s such a good story and speaks to our situation right now. Where do we start?

Resilience is having the strength to fulfil the call God has given us, even when it will be painful and difficult


So if we start with Nehemiah, what was going on?


God’s people were sent into exile, having been defeated in war; they had turned from God’s ways, not listened to the prophets and reaped the consequences. Some of them would have been responsible for the actions that led to this disaster, but some would have been just carried along- it wasn’t their fault at all but they were all in the same mess.

A few had been left behind in their city Jerusalem and some restoration had already happened but there was still much to do.

So Nehemiah, in the Persian court got the news that all was not well- in fact there was trouble and shame. The people left behind were in great difficulty and the walls of the city were still broken. Their enemies were laughing at them. I bet they didn’t feel safe at all.


So what does Nehemiah do?

He weeps; he cries and he prays. He admits that he and his people have been in the wrong but he also reminds God of his covenant and promise to God’s people. God had promised to rescue his people when they turned back to him.

Nehemiah hangs onto that promise.

So what happens?


Nothing happens- for at least 4 months! Nehemiah was stuck in a foreign land, he couldn’t leave and he couldn’t even ask for help- speaking to the King before the King spoke to you was out of the question. But the king did notice how sad Nehemiah looked and asked him- which gave Nehemiah courage.

He asks the king boldly for the things he needs and the king says yes.

This is the sign that Nehemiah needs. He understands what he has to do- and the king’s favour towards him is like a sign- God is with him!


There is a pathway here: Reality. Grief. Prayer. Patience. God’s answer. Action


Nehemiah wasn’t helpless, he had a purpose, a sense of calling.

This is part of our wellbeing. When we know what we’re doing and can keep going at it, we feel much better in ourselves.

Part of our resilience is knowing what God has called us to do and getting on with it.

We can endure all sorts of other things when we understand our call.

This might not be the spectacular call of Nehemiah. Mostly, it’s much more ordinary. We might be: -


Called to be a person in a family or with friends. Called to be loving and faithful.

Called to have a job to do in church, called to be reliable and useful.

Called to have a job or volunteer in the world- called make a difference.


So Nehemiah got on with the job of rebuilding the walls. He didn’t do it alone but organised the others living Jerusalem. He encouraged and inspired them- telling them what God had already done for them in sending the resources they needed.

They worked together and protected each other. Everyone was involved and no-one was too important or too insignificant to join in. As one group worked on the wall, others, stood by with their weapons to protect them.

So a big part of our resilience is being called into action with others.


Just as well as they had opposition.


Their enemies ridiculed them- you’ll never do it. So Nehemiah prayed and encouraged his people.

Their enemies threatened them - so the people worked together - tools in one hand, weapons in the other.

And trouble at home too- some people were exploiting others- but Nehemiah sorted it out and acted as a great example of fairness to them all.


Whatever we do, there will be issues, problems and challenges. Actually knowing that we all have difficulties is the first step to overcoming them. Being a Christian is not an easy life. But knowing that we’re called to something- we have a sense of purpose helps. Knowing that obstacles arise helps us. And knowing that God is with us in it all makes the biggest difference of all.


The enemies didn’t give up - they tried to distract Nehemiah with meetings and frighten him into stopping.

We might not have physical people who try and stop us doing what God is calling us to. But we do have an unseen but no less real foe. Satan is against the purposes of God. He’s against us fulfilling our calling- being the people God wants us to be.

We could get downhearted, intimidated, distracted or exhausted.


Just as Nehemiah did, we can focus back on what God has called us to do.

Work with other people - praying for our friends in church, heling each other out.

And knowing that when doubts difficulties or obstacles come our way, it’s no surprise. God has not disappeared. Just as God continued to be with Nehemiah, he is also still with us in our situations.


And the wall got built. God will see us through whatever we are facing now.


The Creed


Do you believe and trust in God the Father,

source of all being and life,

the one for whom we exist?

We believe and trust in him.


Do you believe and trust in God the Son,

who took our human nature,

died for us and rose again?

We believe and trust in him.


Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,

who gives life to the people of God

and makes Christ known in the world?

We believe and trust in him.


This is the faith of the Church.

This is our faith.

We believe and trust in one God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.


Our Prayers

There will be a short period of silence between sections of our prayers to allow for private prayer and thoughts

The lines in bold will be said by all.

Let us pray.

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Thank you, Father, for your boundless mercy and love.

We give you thanks that we can now meet in your presence in your house but pray for those who still meet you in their own homes.

Bless your Church here on the Aldermoor so that we can rebuild our family, after Covid has changed our lives, but in different ways.

We pray That this day may be holy, good, and joyful.

We pray to you, O Lord.

Silence

Father you Blessed your Servant Nehamiah.

Through prayer you gave him the courage and resilience not only to approach his king to ask him for relief from his duties but also to help him rebuild Jerusalem.

We pray that you will give us the courage and resilience to proclaim your Gospel here on the Aldermoor and in our daily lives. To rebuild our lives in your Love

That we may offer to you our worship and our work:

We pray to you, O Lord.

Silence

Help us Father to protect our world. A place that has so much beauty and wonder that we are slowly strangling with our misuse and uncaring attitudes We pray that we can slow down the warming of our planet by reducing harmful emissions.

We pray that we may strive for the well-being of all creation.

We pray to you, O Lord.

Silence

We pray for all those who are in pain, in body, mind and spirit. Please send down the Holy Spirit to comfort and heal them.

We pray for all those who care for people, we bring before you those we know, bless them in the work they do. We pray for all those who care for the needy and those who feed the hungry.

We pray for those who have lost friends and family, especially those who have died from Covid, comfort them in their hour of need.

Give us that resilience to cope with the pleasures and pains of life, that we may know the love of Christ and be thankful.

We pray to you, O Lord.

Silence

This week we pray that we may be bound together by your Holy Spirit, in communion with St. Catherine all your saints, entrusting one another and all our life to Christ.

We pray to you, O Lord.

Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to the mercy and protection of God.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

The Peace

The peace of God be always with you

and also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace


Song: Father I place into your hands https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuaemMmOrU s


Holy Communion


The Lord is here

His Spirit is with us.


Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.


Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.


It is right to praise you, Father, Lord of all creation;

in your love you made us for yourself.

When we turned away

you did not reject us,

but came to meet us in your Son.

You embraced us as your children

and welcomed us to sit and eat with you.


In Christ you shared our life

that we might live in him and he in us.


He opened his arms of love upon the cross and made for all the perfect sacrifice for sin.


On the night he was betrayed,

at supper with his friends he took bread, and gave you thanks;

he broke it and gave it to them, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.


Father, we do this in remembrance of him:

his body is the bread of life.


At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,

he gave you thanks, and said:

Drink this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins; do this in remembrance of me.


Father, we do this in remembrance of him: his blood is shed for all.


As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,

send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine may be

to us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy gifts

make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.


With your whole Church throughout the world, we offer you this sacrifice of praise

and lift our voice to join the eternal song of heaven:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.


Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours

now and for ever.

Amen.


We break this bread

to share in the body of Christ.

Though we are many, we are one body,

because we all share in one bread.

Jesus, Lamb of God,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.


Draw near with faith.

Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ

which he gave for you,

and his blood which he shed for you.

Eat and drink

in remembrance that he died for you,

and feed on him in your hearts

by faith with thanksgiving.



Prayer of Spiritual Communion


Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,

for all the benefits you have given me,

for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,

I ask you to come spiritually into my heart.

O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,

may I know you more clearly,

love you more dearly,

and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen


Song: Great is the darkness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ8qe3CggWo



Almighty God,

we thank you for feeding us

with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ.

Through him we offer you our souls and bodies, to be a living sacrifice.

Send us out in the power of your Spirit

to live and work to your praise and glory.

Amen.



The Blessing


God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love,

defend you on every side,

and guide you in truth and peace;

and the blessing of God Almighty,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

be with you now and remain with you always

Amen


Song: Shine Jesus Shine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3iB30gCqAc


Notices


Dismissal


Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

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